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Memories of The Young Theatre
Alastair Allen Sarah Bamford Jilly Chandler (Spurrier) Jim Culverhouse Gareth Cutting Paul Diner Ceris Feakes (Challenger) Clare Cid-Fuentes (Deely) Louise Gill (Brooks) Robert Glenister John Grantham (Graham) Jill Hartman (Horrocks) Andrew Kitchen Phillipa Kitchen Kay Locker (Koré) Jacquie Russell Tim Smith Dino Stavrides Claire Toeman Mike (“Midge”) Williams
Note: with effect from May, 2014 new entries are placed at the top of this page.
I have strong memories of the Young Theatre, Harrow and was in many of the productions. The first play I was in was The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, in which I was a Witch’s Follower and a stone animal! I remember being told I was very good to stay in character as a stone animal, that is I didn't move, when we had a set disaster and one of the flats fell on top of me! I was in Dick Whittington and The Tasks of Ming Lo as well as many others. The social life of the Young Theatre was brilliant, theatre trips, parties and I remember particularly our Old Time Music Hall phase, singing Lets all go down the Strand as we did just that. Strong memories are: Andrew Kitchen leading a workshop in which we all had to be fried eggs; the smell of greasepaint and Ponds Cold Cream; and Louise Brooks and myself having to make our entrance from the back of the hall down the aisle, my line was “I don't feel natural some 'ow blonde”. I have no idea what production that was. I was 12 when I joined and 18 when I left to go art school, so YT featured in my life in a big way and I look back on it with huge affection.
I am all too aware of the upcoming anniversary - 50 years!!!!!!!!!!! Quite where did that lifetime go? And what a course it sent me on - can I blame IRW? I wasn't there at the very beginning - I arrived in September (aged 12?) brought in by Graham Bishop; spent first afternoon making papier-maché bricks for the set of an Xmas saga set in a bombed-out church. [Once To Every Man - 1964] Put me off prop-making for decades, but I came back the next week - and for the next 13+ years....and rapidly became the Under 14 rep on the committee: empire building from the off evidently. My first speaking role was 2nd Executioner in Alice....I can still recall my only line "but it hasn't a body". I have had smaller TV roles since.
[IRW: I believe (although Andrew won't confirm this!) that he was the one who came up with the name The Young Theatre.]
I became involved with Harrow YT through a fellow student at the New College of Speech and Drama, being first dragged in to assist with make-up on The Sea King's Daughter (1966). Having subsequently, and painfully, played a sinking ship in The Critic the following year, I got hooked, and spent every spare moment (and some that weren't) down at St Alban's Church Hall until I left college! I continued working with YT off and on until the Harrow branch closed, directing (a high-spot being taking St George and the Dragon round local parks on a horse and cart for the Queen's Silver Jubilee); production managing; and generally doing anything and everything!
Summer 1974/5 I had finished school and got myself a job and moved into a bedsit, (no university option for me but straight out into the real world). A story in the Harrow Observer about the Young Theatre caught my eye. I had 'done' a play at school and loved it. So a sunny Sunday afternoon in early September I turned up at St Albans church hall. Great fun. And the next week was the annual general meeting. At that meeting there was much talk about how to raise more money. I was keen to get involved and by the end of the meeting I had been elected treasurer! All a bit of a whirlwind and some quick thinking by a certain Andrew Kitchen. A year later Andrew left and I became Group Director. No previous experience, or even a drama lesson to my name it was truly terrifying but I didn’t even know what it was I didn’t know! So with the casual confidence born out of lack of experience decided to start by directing a production of Wizard of Oz.
The next five years were without doubt the single most intense and formative period of my life. So many great friends, brilliant memories, and how much we all relied on each other, the energy and single mind passions. Chaotic and crazy by degree. I think it was the fact that we had to figure it out ourselves, with no adult safety net that really concentrated the mind and forced us to throw ourselves into Young Theatre with such passion.
I still am involved in a theatre and treasure the memories and life-long friendships born from those times. I should write more, and will do in time.
My favourite production was The Deserted House (1968) not least because I had a crush on Andy Anderson! It was a very mature play for kids as young as we were and I think we handled it exceedingly well. I still vividly remember getting 'hit' across the face by IRW and it wasn't at all difficult to come up with the required tears demanded by that scene. I believe I could have gone much further in acting but I was flitting from one thing to another in those days and nothing kept my attention very long. I regret that.
Why did I join Young Theatre? My main reason was because I saw Deserted House and was thrilled at the quality and sincerity of the actors. I felt that here was a group of young people I would really enjoy working with. And I was right!
My first role was as the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland a lovely part! But my chief memory from that play was that the girl playing Alice was shy about screaming in the court scene, so I stood behind the curtain and screamed for her! I was very worried that I might time it wrong and give not only the audience, but also the actors, a fright by screaming in the wrong place!!
I also really enjoyed the improvisation sessions we had in the hall between rehearsing for shows. I always remember the hundred and one things you can make a wire coat hanger become! From a jerry pot to a bow (for shooting arrows).
Being a member of Y.T. was one of the happiest times of my life.
[Would] like to say hello to […] all the ex members YT Harrow. Those memories seem like yesterday - weren't they great! I was so proud when [Ian] gave me the part of George in The Deserted House . What a play. Looking through the Archives remembering what we did was fantastic.
I like the fact that there is evidence of me performing with Robert Glenister (even if he was only 12 at the time!). Whenever I see him on TV I have to say "I knew him!" It also reminds me how nervous I was doing The Innocents, frantically trying to learn my lines on the train going to school. No wonder it was the last time I appeared in front of the curtain!
Funnily enough, I have another memory of YT (St Alban's Drama as was), which, to this day, is very clear but quite ridiculous! It was a Sunday afternoon soon after we joined. For some reason Andrew wasn't with me. Dad dropped me off at the church hall and as he drove away I realized I didn't have my 3d subs! I panicked and chased after the car but he didn't see me. I was grief-stricken, but when I went in, you were all very nice and said I could pay next week (I was 11 at the time I think!). It's strange how we remember the scary bits so well! Little did I know then, how much YT would become a part of my life. I have many, many happy memories of events and people and seeing glimpses on the web brought them all back! Thanks.
I joined Young Theatre North Harrow on Sunday November 9th 1969, I was 9 years old. I had been passionate about the theatre since the womb I think, and here, now was an opportunity to show the world what this precocious nine-year-old was capable of.
I'd heard about the group the when my father had read in the local newspaper that new members were being sought to take part in a production of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe directed by Kay Koré.
My Dad made a phone call on my behalf and I was asked to attend rehearsals the following day. I retired to bed barely able to contain my excitement. The L the W and the W/drobe was a book I knew well and drifted off to sleep wondering whether I would be asked to give my Aslan, or maybe Edmund the betrayer. At a push I supposed that Mr. Tumnus or even Mr. Beaver might be acceptable.
"We'd like you to play a fawn" they said the next day.
Memory - Robert Glenister as the Rat Catcher when we did And The Piper Played (1977) and he decided to cartwheel onto the stage! It was directed by the wonderful Midge [Williams] and I remember there were signs all over the dressing rooms saying Ad Lib! - but I didn´t know what that meant!
I also remember that half way through The Insect Play (1978) - I was the Blind Ant! - we had a complete power cut ...I seem to remember it was for an hour, but I may be wrong!
Young Theatre was an incredible time in my life and it was one of the deciding factors which encouraged me to study drama at university and subsequently to become an actor and then an agent. For me it is The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew that I remember with deepest affection. I remember Paul Diner and myself giggling helplessly during one rehearsal and Andrew K just standing with one eyebrow raised waiting for us to get on with it. Andrew has given me that look many many times in the intervening years.
I have very fond memories of YT, the most memorable of all being acting with John Graham (Grantham) in the Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew. His Edinburgh Morningside Dr Molloch used to crease me up, especially the line 'Let me press you to an apple' addressed to my Oblong Fitz Oblong. Corpsing and weeping were quite common in rehearsals (and probably in performances).
I loved the YT days. I joined in 1974 (Baron Bolligrew) and left in 1979 after having acted, directed (The Insect Play), been treasurer and been a King on a cart (St George & the Dragon)! My father designed the programme for And the Piper Played and I am sure my sister was in there too somewhere.
As far as the list goes, it may be incomplete as I remember being in Then by David Campton with Sheila Nicol; directing A.A. Milne's The Man in the Bowler Hat; and being in a few drama competitions (notably dancing a tango with Kay Koré and Neil Macdonald) in the Hatch End Tithe Barn. Happy days!
I indulged my passion for acting by becoming a University lecturer - no-one sleeps when I am on the podium! I shall try to go through the archives over the next few weeks. I presume that a scanned items are what you want? There were no digital cameras in my day!
I recall being in The Insect Play as a dung beetle shortly after joining the group. I went once to the North Harrow church for my first visit to YT but subsequently to Harrow Weald to the newly opened Harrow Arts Centre. I was also in [Toad of Toad Hall - 1979.]. I was a part of a touring show we did at the Harrow Show and other outdoor events along with Paul Moran, Paul Bhattacharjee and several others during one year which we might have done other years as well but I don't remember.
Although I did not continue the acting, I am sure that the self confidence that came from participating in something as dynamic as the YT was the best start that my work life could possibly have had.
I've retained my fondness for the theatre (my locals are the Everyman and the Playhouse in Cheltenham), I've yet to reach the next phase of life when the pressures of work and children ease and I can participate again. In the meantime, I just enjoy spotting the other YT members on television!
I was a YT member in North Harrow in the mid 1970s.
It's fascinating looking through the site and trying to put faces to names from so long ago. Looking at the list of productions, the ones I remember being involved with are:
I also recall Thank you very much  by C P Taylor - and the fuss from some audience members about the bad language - and a mystery/miracle play which we performed in various places around Harrow and Pinner from a horse-drawn cart. [?Noah's Flood]
Although I was not with the YT for very long and arrived much older than some, I do have happy memories of playing alongside Robert Glenister and John Graham in The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew in which as Squire Blackheart I spent a lot of time being a menace and I think a teapot!! Got into trouble as during the run up to Bolligrew I went to teacher training college in Northampton and had many friends from Yorkshire; so on returning for rehearsals was berated “why are you speaking with a Yorkshire accent??” Have good memories of the Highet boys Alan and Brian (stagehands mostly) and Robert Glenister of course.
Does not seem 50 years (although it does sometimes!!)
My memories of YT are happy ones … I made some great friends including Martin Samuels and John Graham who I am still in touch with. I remember the after show parties where we all had a lot of fun… There was a four hander piece which was set in a barn (In Need Of Care) and I remember we all had a lot of laughs rolling around in the hay! Andy Kitchen was always at the helm of every production… He always seemed so knowledgeable. The YT fuelled my enthusiasm for the theatre and from there I went on to become a member of the National Youth Theatre but still continued to attend the YT.
So many memories from four years that were, quite literally, life-changing. The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew was a delight - my enduring memory being of Clive Saunders as the Dragon drawling “I'm bored … there's no avoiding it … I'm thoroughly bored”. Being shut in an oversized toy box with John Graham, Jacquie Russell and Robert Glenister as we waited for the lights to go up at the start of Ritual for Dolls, and the furore John Graham caused with his inappropriate use of his cane in Thank You Very Much, and much, much more. Even to this day, when I stand at the front of a room to speak to a group, I hear in my head a voice from the back (was it Kay or was it Andrew?) shouting: “Project!”.
I was a tree in the first production when I joined! I [also] played the wife of John Graham [Grantham] in theatre in the round [but] I cannot remember what the play was called! I was there when Claire Toeman was in In Need Of Care (1976) and, during that year or the year after, I played Shirley in the same play at the Brent Festival for the Studio School in Pinner! I was playing alongside Anne Foot who was also a past member of YT, and we won; one of our competitors being John Grantham! Also went to a party at Clare Toeman‘s in Wembley, where Phillip Glenister was too: [I was] very young then, about 15—I am now 57—he was younger than me!
How YOU could help with this part of the Archive!
If you were a member of The Young Theatre - at either Harrow or Beaconsfield - we will be delighted to hear your memories of your time with the group. That's productions or any YT activities! Please get in touch with us and share this with any other ex-members you know. We want to hear from everyone!
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